My Tribute to Jay MacPherson, Delivered at Victoria College, June 11, 2012

When the four quarters shall

Turn in and make one whole,

Then I who wall your body,

Which is to me a soul
– Jay Macpherson, The Boatman

Margaret Atwood: Year of the Flood

Jay MacPherson was a rare creature — one of a kind. Everyone who knew her would agree.

            Eleanor Cook has spoken about her poetry. I can only add that those few who heard her read it have never forgotten the experience. She was not a person who was interested in poetry as a “career” – she wrote poems only when impelled – and that is clear from the poems themselves.

            I first met Jay in 1957 because she was my English professor at Victoria College – which did hire women then, unlike some colleges at the University of Toronto and very many universities and colleges throughout the English-speaking world.  Jay must have been a mere twenty-eight years old, but she seemed to me very experienced and accomplished – she had, after all, just won the Governor General’s Award for The Boatman, at the unprecedented age of twenty-seven.  At…

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Pedicure, manicure; this cure, that cure

Yet nobody tells them they are sick for sure

Spending so much; to make the outside beautiful

Yet they don’t have time; to make the inside beautiful


Squeezing the life out of their bodies

Squeezing themselves into tight clothes

No wonder they have no space in their lives

No space for truth or reality

No space to even think…

Of what they’re really doing


Doing their best to reveal their cleaves and curves

Doing themselves the injustice they perhaps deserve

We get the theme: “Less fabric, more meat”

But those who have much on the inside

Are not so keen to show their outside

What’s left to show; when you bear it all?


Their lives are upside down

The ladies of the night town

They do their thing on the low down

But I wish they would slow down

And realize; love died because we killed it!


Imperfect pieces, struggling to fit in

Quick to adopt a uniform line of thought

Seeking unity in conformity, in ways unbefitting

Struggling so hard to be exactly what you’re not

There’s just one little thing that she forgot

True beauty just cannot be bought


Earphones stuck in her ears all day

Plugged in to the rest of the world – except herself

She listens to Rihanna and Beyonce all day

But she doesn’t have time – to listen to herself

Or her heart…the screaming voice inside

Muffled by the noise of the world


She’s driven by impulse, not purpose

Quick to ape, slow to think

See, she has a fake face, complete with a fake smile

Fake bosom, fake hips, fake behind

Fake hair, fake nails, and a fake personality

But she is seriously looking for a ‘real’ man!

Yet she’s…

Deeply in love

With a man who deeply lusts after her

And not just one, but many

And the epic romance; began

When you met at a strip club


She says, ‘We have a lot in common’

And I agree…You chase the same illusions

But most common of all, is how

The both of you are so good at living a lie



Expecting lust to last

Is like building a tower with dust

I can explain it all now

The broken homes, broken dreams, broken hearts, broken lives…

When we throw truth out the window

We begin to live in the shadow

Of the very light that should highlight

The beauty of reality


For how much longer

Will you wake each morning to live a lie?

For how much longer

Will you live in the shadow of fear

And die a little more inside!

For how much longer

Will you run away from the truth

And prefer darkness to light


We only have one life to live

Live it true

Live it best

Live it fully

Dignified, respectable, honorable, noble, authentic, real, original!

A life you can be TRULY proud of

When you breathe your last!


It’s your life, your legacy!



By William Mudamba




It’s All Pretty Simple…It takes Just Us.

Intelligence makes the simple complicated,

“I will give you half my loaf for a dip in your soup”

And gets a simply complicated response,

“Hey! A dip is just that, ONE dip!”


Foolishness sees the simplest of pictures,

“I will trust you because I think I know you”

And gets the simplest of results,

“I’m glad I took a chance on you”


Kindness asks the simplest of questions,

“Will you be there for me?”

And gives the simplest of answers,

“Yes, I will”


Wisdom is simplicity most generous,

“Keep your enemies close, but your friends even closer”

And of course it is perpetual,

“Friends are the glue that holds nothing else together but hearts”


Happiness is when all that is simple takes root,

“Grandpa, tell us another tale!”

And takes even deeper root,

“Ok my child, move closer to the warmth of the fire”


Simplicity is kindness most foolish,

Mixed with intelligence,

Embraced by wisdom,

For happiness.